Monday, March 14, 2011

Serving Up the Very Best

Grubs and Scorpions . . . Yum!!!
I've had some great culinary adventures since arriving in China. Just the other day I was treated to scorpinions, locusts, grubs, miniture squids, and fish heads. I have to say that scorpions are now my favorite food in the world, and I can't wait till my second round of the crispy little morsels. My first day here I had chicken feet and solidified goats blood . . . the last one is a big YUCK!!!

Here's Looking at You Kid
Don't misunderstand me. I've had plenty of your everyday foods in the school canteen including a mountain of rice and THE BEST NOODLES EVER COOKED ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET!!! One of the best ways to get to know a culture is through its food. There is a ceremony and tradition to the meals here missing from many American homes. I can't count the number of toasts I've raised my glass for or the number of introductions my hosts have ceremoniously made for me to the other guests. I want to sit straighter at these meals and listen as they talk about their days and their lives. I feel like I am watching a performance.

I think a country's food tells a lot about the country. Some of my friends have gagged at the thought of eating some of the things I have, but there is a saying that the Chinese eat every part of the pig except the oink. It means that every edible part of a plant or animal is consumed. With billions of mouths to feed, the Chinese waste nothing. Some of the animal parts that I would have just discarded at home turned out to be some of my favorite dishes. Although I'll still leave the blood to those used to eating it!

Courtyard Life
My professor put it best when he said, "The villages are the true China. They are the life blood that nourishes and feeds the population. The land is a precious resource and what it produces is what makes us strong." Growing up in the rural part of America, I can relate to his sentiments. The cities and industrials hubs of America  are bustling and teaming with life, but they are supported by the quiet farmers and their hardworking families. I think we could all take some time to appreciate the fact that we are not entitled to things like food. It is a gift from a gracious God, harvested by calloused hands, and bought by those who can afford it.

Just before coming to China. I worked in a soup kitchen run by Christian Services of Hattiesburg, MS. I was reminded everyday of people who are not gaurenteed a meal at night and who are so hungry they don't care if they really like the food or not. It was about nourishment more than enjoyment. I love how the Chinese make food about both nourishment and enjoyment. They take even the lowliest parts of an animal such as the feet and cook them in ways that can make even the pickiest Western beg for more.

This idea of cherising and celebrating the gifts of plants and animals is one I'd like to keep with me when I return home. I'd love to plant a small garden and try new receipes with ingrediants I haven't used. How can you help conserve and celebrate God's gifts to us? Take time to remember that your food didn't magically appear on the table and give thanks.

Much Love Ya'll,

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Going 80s at Least in Hair

Here ya go!!! It's bigger when dry.
I permed my hair!!! Since goal number two (CHINA) is only one week and four days from coming true, I decided I needed a new look. It has taken me forever to grow out my hair so I wanted to keep the length, and I didn't really want to change the color. Curls became the answer!!! I wanted something drastic because my life has been changing drastically over the past several months. Change your life change your hair as my mother always says!!!

Adventure to the land of the dragon!!!
This has been a seasons of lasts for me as I finished my last issue as editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, presided over my last meeting as President of Crusaders for Life, worked my last day at the Kindness Foundation, moved out of my dorm room, took my last final, and attended my last school chapel. I am relieved that the responsibility has toned down for a bit. On the other hand, I feel like my life as I know it is ending. The I couldas and I shouldas have been plaguing my mind as well as the what nows and OMGs!!! 

As I sat in the stylists' chair for five hours, all of these things ran about in my chemically soaked head. What am I going to do with my life? Have I really made a difference at Carey? and blah blah blah blah blahs of a young woman about to graduate. The curlers came out and with each ringlet I realized that it doesn't matter what happens next . . . wait what? Did I really just say that?

Yes I just said it really doesn't matter what happens next. This does not mean we can just sit back, pop  open a coke, and let life pass us by. It means that just as I was so enthralled by the birth of my curls we should be enthralled by the birth of each new moment. I could plan out my entire life and then something could happen ten minutes from now to change everything. All I can count on is the step right in front of me.

The next step for me is preparing to leave for China. I have dreams that span beyond the next three months abroad, but I must take this step to even think about those dreams coming true. Learning to go one step and one day at a time is a hard lesson. Just ask a few of my friends ~wink, wink~!!! Starting this lesson is actually easy . . . you take a breath then you take another.

Look at your to do lists and calendars to decide what comes as the next step for you. Maybe you need something drastic to get your butt moving or maybe you just need to refocus your attention. Soon your day dreams will become closer to reality and you'll find yourself much more productive.

When you climb you look just a few grips ahead at a time!
Don't worry if you slip and look too far ahead for too long. We do have to look at the big picture sometimes to see how far we've come and how far we have left to travel. Celebrate your successes and learn from your mistakes. As Miley Cyrus sings "It's not about how fast we get there or what's waiting on the other side. It's the Climb."

Who knew so much could come from my now 80s curly hair do?!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Biggest Losers & Whiskey

Season 11 Cast
Tonight was the premier of my all time favorite television show The Biggest Loser. I have been obsessed with this show since the very first season when Ryan Benson claimed the title of Biggest Loser. Each season offers heart wrenching stories, hilariously impossible challenges, devious game play, villains, and heroes. This season looks to be among the best!

My initial favorites are Courtney and Arthur who lost over 100 pounds a piece just to be healthy enough to compete on the show, the purple team Hannah and Olivia, and Austin just because he makes me laugh. The team to beat, however, seems to be former Olympic gold medalist Rulon and his partner Justin. I foresee at least one of them at the finale.

It makes the whiskey tolerable!!!
Immediately following the show, I had two shots of peppermint whiskey. It's this nifty little homemade concoction of pure whiskey and melted peppermint sticks. My family has used it for generations in place of traditional cough and cold medicines. It works wonders! I've been sick for a couple of days now, and the numbing sensation of whiskey rushing past my swollen throat glands felt like heaven. Although, there is one downside to this amazing home remedy . . . it knocks you right off your feet and into the deepest sleep of your life. I would wager even the most harden drinkers could be waylaid by just two or three shots!

Before the "medicine" kicks in, I want to share something I realized while watching the show. The Biggest Loser and peppermint whiskey do the same thing. They help people get better by knocking them on their butts. Take tonight's show for instance, Ana and Arthur both literally fell on the backsides trying to complete the first workout. The experience of actually being knocked down or passed out is unpleasant at best and terrifying at worst, but sometimes it is exactly what we need to get over whatever is challenging us.

In just about an hour, I will be so zonked out that Armageddon could occur and I wouldn't flinch. Yet when I wake up in the morning, I will be refreshed and ready to take on the world. Don't be afraid to take on something hard or challenging that will probably knock you on your butt once or twice - those things are usually worth a fight! When you fall, pick yourself up and keep going. Past Biggest Loser contestants can tell you all the pain is worth it in the end.

Jilly Jelly & Ame'nut Butter pre-workouts!!!

Take a look at the resolutions you set a few days ago to see how you can challenge yourself to make them happen. My friend forever and sister for always, Jillayne, and I decided to join the Biggest Loser Club and start walking together three times a week. That's our challenge! Now go set yours!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year = New You? . . . I don't think so!

How's this look for the new year?
With the coming of not only a new year but a new decade, the Internet is once again flooded with articles about resolutions we should or shouldn't make and advice on how to finally achieve those pullout your hair weight loss and organizational goals. Every year I am tempted to create a brand spanking new me. A new year equals a new you, right? . . . I don't think so!

While I am a huge advocate of using the new year as a jumping off point for bettering ourselves, I think it is an abuse of self to claim we need to completely reinvent ourselves. We are far too fabulous just the way we are!!! Okay so I may not know all of you personally, but every woman is absolutely fabulous even if they don't realize it. So what if you've got a few extra pounds (or a hundred), and your best friend is your cat (Tabitha is a very good listener). Being fabulous isn't about looking a certain way or knowing certain people; it's about loving yourself no matter what. defines fabulous as exceptionally good or unusual. Since there is no criteria to interpret this definition, I decided to do my own interpretation.
    Three of my fabulous friends . . . and me of course!
  •  Exceptionally good: This definition doesn't mean you have to be little goodie two shoes or the best in some fame seeking area like sports or acting. Instead it means to be exceptional in our own lives and endeavours. I don't have to win a Pulitzer Prize for one of my articles (wouldn't mind if it happened) in order to be exceptionally good. I just have to do the best I can do, and if worldly praise never follows then so be it.  I am fabulous for the simple reason that I try!
  • Unusual: This one is easy . . . BE YOURSELF!!! I think this was one of the first pieces of advice in almost every self-help book I have ever read. That's because it's the best advice we can ever get. God made each and everyone of us unique. Not only do we have different DNA structures and fingerprints, but we have different body shapes, dreams, and pasts.

The past can be a especially hard thing to deal with or even just remember. However don't just slap your past in the face, no matter how much it deserves it, and say it was worthless. Our past achievements, failures, blessings, and tragedies will always be with us no matter how many times we change our figures, reputations, or identities. I've watched enough Lifetime movies to know that much about life!

I don't like innertubes!

I remember being 11-years-old, minding my own business at the community pool, when literally every guy in my sixth-grade class piled onto an innertube and started splashing towards me calling me "Godzilla's Huge Cow-like Wife." Let's just say I didn't feel so fabulous at that moment. I would love to forget the six years of bullying and depression I went through as a child, but I find those experiences are where I find my independence and strength to help others today. I don't believe God purposefully places pain in our path. However the Bible does promise that he will work all things together for good.

So what is the solution? Do we simply resolve not make a resolution? No! One of my best friends Anna commented that we need a new tradition. Instead of "improving" our already fabulous selves, why don't we start to build-up and take care of ourselves. So for 2011 I resolve to take care of my mind, body, and emotions so I can be the best, most fabulous person I can be. I think that is a New Years resolution I can handle!!!